Tiffany vs Costco

mark bronner diamonds tiffany vs costcoOn August 15, 2017, Tiffany Diamonds won a huge case against the bulk food distributor Costo. A US District court ruled in favor of Tiffany, who alleged that Costco had blatantly manufactured counterfeit rings and marketed them under the Tiffany name.

The luxury jewelry company filed their first suit in February 2013 shortly after Valentine’s Day, alleging that Costco had sold upwards of two thousand rings using Tiffany’s copyrighted name and logo as well as the company’s reputation as one of the finest jewelry designers and distributors in the world. Tiffany’s legal team alleged that Costco had used displays with the word “Tiffany” in print and that the sales associates called on the pathos of the Tiffany name as a part of their sales pitch of the diamond-laden jewelry to customers.

Costco, ever cavalier about the whole issue, argued in its defense that the word “Tiffany” was a generic enough word to describe jewelry that the company could claim no such copyright over the name. They drew a parallel between their own marketing and the use of words like Kleenex, Band Aid, and Xerox with a product, not a brand.

Presiding Judge Swain ruled against Costo in 2016.

In total, Tiffany has been awarded a grand total just shy of twenty million dollars in damages from Costco. Initially, the jury decided that five and a half million dollars would cover the damages that Costo inflicted on Tiffany. Subsequently, the judge chose to load on an additional eight and a quarter million dollars to the penalty Costo had to pay as punitive damages. Calling Costco’s defense ridiculous on its face, the judge added the punitive damages because the actions were intentional and harmful.

In a final blow, Judge Swain imposed triple damages totaling 11.1 million dollars plus interest, on top of the 8.25 million that the jury had settled on.

Costo will likely continue to market the same diamond rings in the future, but they have been thoroughly admonished to use clearer language, including clarifications like “Tiffany Style” rather than “Tiffany” as a stand alone adjective.

Copyrights have been a central focus of the US Supreme Court as of late, and Costco said it intends to appeal this particular case as high as it feasibly can. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled on two cases related to what can and cannot be copyrighted. In one case revolving around cheerleader’s uniforms, the court decided that stylistic features like chevrons can, in fact, be copyrighted, which was a huge blow to the knockoff industry and the leeway the Court has generally granted it. The other notably-controversial case dealt with whether racial epithets qualify as grounds for the US choosing to reject a copyright application. In a sweeping victory for the ACLU, the courts ruled that the US government was in no place to decide which words were “too inflammatory” to deny copyrights.

If this Tiffany v Costco case makes it way up the courts, we can expect to see the justices deliberate in a few years down the road.

Millennials Didn’t Ruin Diamonds

Mark Bronner diamonds millennials didn't ruin diamondsBaby boomers love complaining about all the stuff millennials have ruined. From chain restaurants to marriage, countless think pieces detail with great ire how this generation of young adults is destroying all the businesses and traditions the baby boomers have grown to know and love. Diamonds aren’t immune from this: many blame young people’s delayed marriage, moral fiber, and economic woes for the slowed rate of diamond sales.

As it turns out, though, millennials are more respectful of tradition than the generation before them. Forbes reporter Rachelle Bergstein writes, “only 11% of 25- to 34-year-olds saying that they ‘did not have an engagement ring.’ In comparison, a whopping 39% of the 55 and over group revealed that they did not seal the deal with a diamond.”

Moreover, a few different indicators are showing that sales had actually improved over the past year. Demand in the US has risen in the past year, even as demand in India and China have shrunken. As I’ve written, more of that is coming as a result of shoppers buying for themselves, not necessarily for a loved one. 

While the diamond market certainly looks different, it’s still alive and well. Delayed engagements are still engagements, and diamonds bought for oneself are still diamond sales.

Diamonds Aren’t Forever

mark bronner diamonds diamonds aren't foreverAs we all know, a huge selling point of diamonds has been the old refrain, “Diamonds are forever.” Countless songs and ad campaigns have heralded sentiments along these lines for decades. Fiscally, this proves untrue, as the price of diamonds is artificially inflated. But what about chemically and physically? Do diamonds really last forever?

Diamonds are made from compressed carbon molecules that have been pressurized by the weight of the earth for hundreds of years. According to gem curator Dr. George E. Harlow at the American Museum of Natural History, ancient diamonds form eight-sided crystals during their billion-year creation process. Since the earth is constantly shifting and changing, the crystals may incorporate other other minerals or get a little squished as they make their way towards the surface of the planet. As such, the bonds in the gems dissolve and reform many times throughout the process, and tiny cavities can form, causing the diamonds to take on blue or pink hues.

Once the diamonds reach the surface of the Earth, they’ll remain exactly as they are. Diamonds are incredibly stable at low temperatures. So, yes, diamonds are forever, but only after the Earth is done making them.

Falling Marriage Rates Hurt Diamond Sales

mark_bronnder_diamonds_marriage_and_diamond_salesIt seems like we’re blaming millennials for everything these days, and the latest one is the dip in jewelry sales, particularly precious gems like diamonds. I’ve already discussed in-depth that a part of the problem is an economic one — young people today have more debt and fewer good jobs than those from 20 years ago and simply can’t afford to pay the exorbitant prices that De Beers is charging.

Another part of the problem I’ve already discussed is the moral one. Study after study has demonstrated that young people are willing to spend more money on products that align with their moral leanings and abstain from spending where the establishment’s morals conflict with their own. From ethically produced clothing to clean foods, the young workforce talks with its wallet and makes its opinions on labor practices and clean food clear as a bell. As such, many young adults take great issue with the culture of forced labor, child labor, colonialism, and monopoly that fuels the diamond industry.

However, diamond executives are blaming another habit of young people for their hemorrhaging businesses: delaying marriage. A combination of sexual liberation, economic troubles, and uncertain future prospects has now pushed the average age of marriage up from the 20s to the 30s for many of today’s young adults.

As of April 2017, loosely one third of the millennial generation still lives with their parents. This is a bit of a chicken-and-egg conundrum — some say that young people move in with their parents because their marriage and cohabitation prospects are limited, while others posit that the act of living with one’s parents limits one’s dating pool, as many prospective mates associate that living situation with poverty and loser-dom.

Not only do these changing norms hurt the engagement ring and wedding ring market, but also the jewelry industry as a whole. From anniversary gifts to Valentine’s day presents to mother’s day, the vast majority of diamond-buying occasions have to do with marriage and a family, both of which are being delayed in the lives of today’s young adults. Even among those who do choose to marry, many are eschewing the grandiose marriage proposal in favor of a more frugal and/or unique option.

Perhaps this delay in marriage and childbearing age will result in a boom in the diamond industry 10 years down the road, but some other significant changes in the economy, purchasing preferences, and the social climate may continue to impede the growth of the diamond markets for young adults.

The newest demographic of diamond buyers? Women

mark bronner diamonds womenHistorically, diamonds have been marketed as a gift that men buy and give to women. De Beers revived their dying business in the 1930s by marketing diamonds as the perfect engagement gift, and even today, most diamond ads from Tiffany to Kay Jewelers to Jared feature heterosexual couples kissing in the rain after the man has given the woman diamond jewelry. The vast majority of the diamond industry has counted on men being the main buyers of the precious gems.

A new company based in Canada is switching up the game, though. Mejuri markets their fine jewelry to women who want to shop for themselves. Step one was to eliminate the middleman to bring down the prices of the already artificially inflated cost of diamonds. Secondly, they made the buying process enticing to women. Their ads feature only women and aim to make the shopping process more appealing to women who are shopping for themselves. Many of the pieces include positive affirmations, too.
Between the prices and the marketing, Mejuri could disrupt the diamond market as we know it.

The Cubs’ New Rings

mark bronner diamonds the cubs new ringsThe Chicago Cubs have a fancy new ring to display. Having recently won the World Series, the Cubs have earned themselves custom rings — and the designers pulled no punches after the team finally broke a 108 World Series drought.

The rings boast 214 diamonds each and three carats of rubies for the classic red in their logo. Jostens, the design agency in charge of the rings, confirmed in a press release the exact specs of the prizes. The rings are made of 14 carat white gold and designed to commemorate the players, Wrigley field, and the legend that sent the Cubs on their drought in the first place. The press release states, “Overall, the ring contains 214 diamonds at 5.5 karats, 3 karats of genuine red rubies and 2.5 karats of genuine sapphires.”
In all, the team will hand out 1,908 rings to its players, administrators, investors, and board members. Players have already commented that they love the ring and all its bling and sentimentality, although it is awkward to wear. As fun as all the celebrating has been, the Cubs say they’re ready to get to work on earning another one.

7 Surprising Facts About Diamonds

5 surprisng facts about diamonds

The Anatomy Of A Diamond

Mark Bronner Diamonds shares an infographic that explains the anatomy of a diamond:

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Diamonds by Shape

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Shape plays an important role in making a diamond uniquely yours. Here’s a guide that highlights the distinctive qualities of each shape and whether it’s the right fit for you.

Round

Used frequently in earrings, pendants and solitare engagement rings, round remains the most popular shape for diamonds. Virtually all round diamonds are brilliant-cut and for good reason. When cut as a round brilliant, the diamond’s angles help to enhance it’s fire and brilliance.

Square

This dynamic shape has the extraordinary ability to look either modern or vintage, and creates the illusion of a larger diamond. Most square-shaped diamonds will feature either a princess or quadrillion cute, and are quite popular engagement ring choices. When choosing a square diamond, make sure all sides are parallel, and choose a prong setting that will protect the corners.

Oval

Oval-shaped diamonds have a long history, dating back as early as 1304 with the famous Koh-i-Noor. Today, they’re making a strong comeback, and are a popular choice, particularly if you want your finger to appear longer and slimmer. Like round diamonds, ovals cut in the brilliant style exhibit a similar fire and brilliance.

Rectangle

Rectangular shapes come in a variety of cuts, including cushion, baion and baguette. The Asscher cushion cuts surged in popularity in the early 1990’s, making these ideal for those who prefer classic jewelry. Look for parallel sides and even corners with this shape.

Octagonal

You’ll often see octagonal-shaped diamonds with an emerald cut, the emblem of the Art Deco period. The rectangular table and step-cut facets give it a mirror like appearance, which means that clarity will be an important quality for the diamond, since inclusions are highly visible.

Marquise

Named after a mistress of King Louis XV, whose mouth it was thought to resemble, this shape creates an illusion that the diamond is larger in size. Watch out for symmetry in marquise-shaped diamonds – even the slightest difference can make a diamond appear uneven and unbalanced.

Pear

Resembling a teardrop, the pear shape blends the best of the round and marquise shapes. Rounded shoulders and wings create an appealing outline, but symmetry is key for this shape. Wear the point out toward the tip of your fingers for a slimming effect on your hand.

Heart

This eternally romantic and feminine shape is not as prevalent as you might expect, making it all the more special. Heart-shaped diamonds should have two symmetrical halves with a distinct cleft and even wings and lobes. A perfect shaped gift to give on Valentine’s Day!

Three Ways To Save On A Diamond Ring

mark bronner diamonds

As springtime approaches, there is love in the air and engagements are likely to happen each and every day. Regardless of season, there is always someone out there getting ready to pop the question. There are many aspects to an engagement, but one key aspect to a traditional engagement is a diamond ring. However, diamond rings can be extremely pricey and you will want to save up for the wedding! Here are a few ways to shop engagement rings for less:

1) Plan Your Purchase

When you are looking for a diamond ring, it is important to begin with a particular budget in mind. It is also important to make sure you save money before you buy this ring. Saving money here and there and allotting it toward the ring is necessary to prepare for this pricey purchase. Make sure that before purchasing the ring, you truly take into account your partner’s taste. Furthermore, take into consideration the lifestyle and job of the person who will be wearing the ring. For example, a nurse, doctor, or anyone who needs to wear gloves will want a low setting, since a high setting is likely to tear the gloves.

2) Consider the Four C’s

In an infographic earlier on this blog, I discussed the four C’s: carat, cut, clarity, and color. But there is a very specific way to consider these things to be extra thrifty. One important way to save is to get a diamond that is less than 1 carat. The prices of diamonds jump at the full and half-carat weights, so if you like the look of a 1 carat diamond, it is best to get a 0.98 carat diamond, which will give you almost the exact same size for a drastically different price. In terms of cut, it can be difficult to figure out which cut is ideal. One great way to get a good-quality cut for cheap is to use Pricescope’s free Cut Adviser tool.

There are also many ways to save in terms of clarity. Clarity refers to how many imperfections can be seen in a diamond, but the truth is that there are many unnoticeable imperfections that can take a good amount of money off of the price. For example, if you get a diamond with small inclusions, you will be able to save thousands, even though these flaws are typically only seen with a microscope. The last of the four C’s is color. While color is graded from D (colorless) to Z (yellow), the difference between G and D, for example, is not visible to the naked eye. In order to get a good quality diamond for a smart price, the ideal color range would be from G to J.

3) Ring Setting Tips

There are a number of ways that you can set a ring to make the stone look larger than it really is. For example, if you choose a bezel setting, the diamond will appear bigger. If you chose a halo ring, there will be accent diamonds surrounding the center diamond, thus adding significant size without adding too much to the price. Another way to make the stone look large is a thin band. The thinner the band, the larger the center diamond will appear. Another option is choosing an elongating stone. Not only do elongated stones make a stone look larger than it is, but they also add a unique flair to the ring that will make it stand out from the rest.

When it comes time to pop the question, many people want a large rock, but don’t have a large amount of money to spare. Luckily, there are plenty of clever ways to save on diamond rings that the jeweler won’t tell you about. If you follow these helpful tips, you are guaranteed to get your ideal ring for less!